Matthew Law and a number of colleagues compared the genomes of people with melanoma to those who were cancer free.
Samples from more than 35,000 people revealed new genetic regions that are linked to the development of melanoma.
Dr Anne Cust, an epidemiologist from the University of Sydney said:
“We already know a little bit about genetic risk factors but in this study we combined a lot of different data sets internationally. And, with such a big sample size, we were able to find new regions in the genome that are associated with melanoma risk that previously we didn't know about or we were unsure about. We know about 20 regions, or genes, now involved in melanoma risk and about half of those are related to your skin and hair pigmentation or moles. And, half of them are in pathways unrelated to what we can visibly see".
Dr Matthew Law (Queensland Institute of Medical Research) added:
“One of the genetic markers we've found is involved in the telomeres, which are like the protective caps at the end of your chromosomes. The analogy people usually use is that they are like the little caps at the end of your shoe laces to stop them from unravelling. So one of the genes we found is involved in controlling the length of the telomeres and in turn helping to protect your chromosomes.”
These findings, although not leading directly to a cure will provide further insights as other information is revealed about the causes and possible new treatments for a disease that afflicted 48,364 Australian between 2005 and 2009.
Questions worth asking:
Why is the incidence for women often higher than for men?
Why is there such a high incidence in Nordic countries?
Why are there such low incidences in Slavic countries?
Could it be related to tanning behaviour?
If you happen to see a very tanned tourist in the Australian summer, it's likely to be a Swedish or Danish tourist or visitor on a working visa.
Are they exposing themselves to an increased risk of developing melanoma?
Do they receive special counselling on arrival about the dangers of the sun?